Lakers’ Josh Hart on hardest player to guard: “James Harden, by far. BY FAR.”

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Who is the hardest player in the NBA to guard?

Kevin Durant, with his lethal high-release jump shot and an ability to get to the rim? LeBron James, with his ability to physically overpower on the drive or just shoot over the top of the defender? Stephen Curry with his crazy handles and from-the-parking-lot shooting range? Russell Westbrook and his otherworldly athleticism? Giannis Antetokounmpo? Anthony Davis? Damian Lillard?

Lakers’ second-year guard Josh Hart says none of them and instead points to James Harden (via Alex Kennedy of Hoopshype).

Harden led the NBA in scoring last season, averaging 30.4 points per game on a ridiculously efficient 61.9 true shooting percentage. He takes almost half his shots from three, shooting 36.7 percent last season, but his real gift is on the drive where he brings this old-man-at-the-Y change of speeds game combined with strength and a gift for drawing contact and the foul. Defenders often describe guarding him as frustrating (even his own teammates assigned to cover him in practice feel that way).

Harden’s game is not as graceful or fluid as Durant or Curry, it lacks that aesthetic beauty. But, what he puts up on the scoreboard and how he lifts a team up are beautiful things.